MML Alex: The Real Realities of Budgeting

Alright, team. It’s time we have a heart to heart about budgeting. First and right off the bat, budgeting is brutal. I’ve seen my share of budgeting advice, and when I actually sat down to fill mine out I couldn’t stop myself from a nice, friendly, “What the hell guys!?” In theory, budgets are always laid out in neat looking percentages and categories. In real life it’s a hot mess… which is why the title of this post is both clever and true.

Probably the worst part of budgeting for me is having patience. Making a budget makes your financial situation very real. If you do a full budget, you have no excuses and no way out. You know exactly what you can afford and what you can’t. My mind is telling me I want my student loans gone right now, but my budget is saying no thanks.

Splitting up and keeping track of the different directions your money is going in is no joke either. My one wish from this experience is that my bank allowed you to create sub-folders within a checking or savings account, even just for visual reasons (looking at you Chase Bank). Yes, I know there is an app for that, but personally I don’t need another app on my phone.

I’ve decided on Excel. It can handle the simple and complicated aspects of my budget in an organized way. I can forecast how much money I will have saved towards a certain goal, and track my spending if I want to.

So here’s what I’m doing. May I introduce Al’s Budget Sheet v1.0:

MML 8-5 budget

Couple things to notice. First, I’ll be budgeting based on a post-debt amount. I included my general debt payment (13%) for clarity’s sake on the bottom left side, but as you can see by the “extra debt payments” portion I’ve sectioned off debt from the rest of my budget. It helps here to show you the true percentages of what I’m paying each month. Second, I’ve taken Pete’s Ideal Household Budget and shifted it to my needs. Many categories got thrown out and some got condensed. I consider food, dining, and entertainment to be one realm for me. This category is basically my full social fund.  You’ll notice it isn’t very much, I know. I’ve added in extra debt payments because I hate my loans. Savings for car and otherwise are split for now. I’m not sure yet if I’ll put everything towards getting a car or keep some money separate.

The top right is where I plan on tracking my account balances. The left column includes my “sub-folders” for Checking, while the area in the top right includes them for Savings. Then the bottom right is my forecast for different savings goals. Areas of the spreadsheet also interact with each other to make it all seamless, thanks Kelley School of Business.

This took a long time to organize, and this is version 1.0. I still have no clue how I’m going to manage to track every purchase I make. There is no way I’ll open up excel and mess with this every time I buy something, so spending tracking is still on the to-do list. Budgeting is taking a lot of effort and thought. It isn’t easy, or fun, or simple. Hopefully the first time is the hardest, and it will get easier to figure out after. But I’m sure some of you older folk will comment on here with, “hah kid, it only gets worse and more complicated from here.” So I’m looking forward to that from all of you.

At this point I’m heavily considering buying an attachable motor for my bike off eBay. That, a poncho in case it rains, and I should be set.

Photo source

If you want me to share my excel sheet, email me. It will probably be constantly changing because every budget is personal, but I’m happy to send it out as a template if you want.

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